The BCCI completely flouted the Future Tours Program – and thus the legitimacy of the international calendar – in scheduling a two Test series at home against the West Indies towards the back-end of this year; in what is difficult to see as anything less than a cheap, engineered attempt to give Sachin Tendulkar (or the batsman formerly known as Sachin Tendulkar) a 200th cap and a significant last hurrah in front of his home fans, India have successfully managed to endanger the chances of their tour to South Africa even happening and have flexed their muscles, effectively saying for all to hear: ‘we are the power; we are the money. We decide what happens, where and when’.
Of course the West Indies couldn’t reject this offer (and can’t be blamed for not doing so), the television rights on hand will effectively keep cricket in the Caribbean alive for another twelve months, so who can blame them for accepting, and becoming embroiled in the whole affair? The consequences are bound to be dire though: financially Cricket South Africa are going to suffer should the tour fall through; and cricket fans will also, seeing as the last two Indian tours to South Africa have been hard fought and largely entertaining.
I’ve started off in such a manner, in order to express my boredom of the power games that the Goliaths of the international game become entrenched in. I don’t wish to include South Africa as much into this equation, but the Indian board are bang centre in the middle of it. Indian fans often construe attacks on their administration as being attacks on the team also, or – God forbid – the country itself; this is most definitely not the case on this page, and I hold no such prejudices against India: the cricket team or nation.
The Indian, English and Australian administrations have effectively created a sub-group among the full member nations, and have ascended to a realm of insular discussions and closed-door scheduling that puts the very entertainment value of the game at severe risk to those who follow each facet of the game with an obsessive vigour.
It is such a bore continuously watching this India-England-Australia axis face off against eachother, in yet another sequence of increasingly dull contests; I’ve struggled to maintain any interest in these almost annual five-match ODI series these teams play against eachother: they are a poison in the fixture-list.
Yes, yes, yes, I understand all of the implicit financial-minded, demographic-baiting, technocratic bull that is spouted by the media-trained players and administrators in explaining the meaning of these fixtures; but there is no meaning to them other than filling up the coffers.
Tomorrow, Bangladesh will take on New Zealand, and I – for one – am bloody excited for this. As soon as I wake up tomorrow, at 7:45 GMT, I’m going to shoot over to the big ‘ole cricket site we all know, and check the scorecard. Maybe I’ll tune into a New Zealand sports station and listen to the commentary whilst I struggle to open my eyelids fully.
My main point in this article is that we have to glory in the majesty of a New Zealand-Bangladesh tour; we have to delight in the upcoming South Africa-Pakistan series. To the casual fan, explore the fixtures and tune into a Zimbabwe Test. What the BCCI have displayed in their arrogance, is that Test cricket is not a level playing field anywhere other than the actual playing field itself. India, England and Australia don’t need any other teams to survive economically, looking at the amount of matches these three play against eachother, not much evidence is needed to convince one of the distinct divisions that are being formed.
So enjoy the Tests that are played not involving these three sides while you can, because with the BCCI, the ECB and CA showing no desire to spread the wealth and re-distribute some of the millions they acquire, it is a decent bet that within the next decade, a Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe or Bangladesh might not be able to stage a Test, or afford to host a full Test series. Honour the game, and spread your interest beyond nationalist support, and I promise you, you’ll have a greater appreciation for cricket than you ever thought you could have.